University of Oklahoma Planned Parenthood Generation Action President and Vice President underscore the importance of advocating for reproductive health care issues and voting to protect access to health care in the 2020 election.
Planned Parenthood provides vital sexual and reproductive health care at a low and affordable price for all, but the services they provide are especially important for young people. For many young folks without insurance or with limited insurance, recommended care including STI testing and access to contraception are not options. Even when care can be accessed within these constraints, it is often without the ability to choose the care that is most needed.
One of my loved ones shared with me that after aging off their parent’s insurance, they were unable to access vital STI testing because of out-of-pocket expenses. During a presentation on sexual health resources available to students on our campus, another young person shared that although she was able to access condoms for free on campus, she knew that the best contraceptive choice for her would be an IUD; without insurance, she was completely unable to access this care. A close friend of mine came to me looking for resources because even though she was insured under her parents’ plan, the stigma they placed on accessing reproductive care was so great that using her insurance to access contraceptive care wasn’t an option for her.
Inability to access care is pervasive, particularly in Oklahoma and particularly for young people. Planned Parenthood provides an essential service in filling in this care gap by providing confidential, affordable care without stigma or judgment. Often, they are the best (or even the only) option for young people like me.
The stigma around accessing reproductive health care can stop many young people from accessing the necessary care that they need, whether that means abortion services, birth control, STI/HIV testing and treatment, hormone replacement therapy, emergency contraception, or other services. For many folks, when they feel lost or scared, Planned Parenthood is one of the few places where they feel they have a safe place to talk freely and openly.
The reproductive health education that Planned Parenthood provides is often the only reproductive education that adolescents will receive. In Oklahoma, only 38% of secondary schools teach all 19 of the critical sex education topics, and on top of that, only 50% of schools teach students how to correctly use a condom. I remember a classmate saying she was ready to be sexually active but had no idea how to use condoms, access birth control, get STI testing, etc. Planned Parenthood was there for her and answered every single one of her questions.
When another friend unintentionally became pregnant during her sophomore year of college, she had no idea what her next steps were. Planned Parenthood was there for her with zero judgment. Because of them, she was able to have an open discussion about her own body in a place where people genuinely cared about her. Planned Parenthood fights to protect bodily autonomy and the decisions people make about if, when, and how they have children. It is up to us to vote to ensure we put people in office who will fight for and uphold our values, including access to comprehensive health care and sex education.
ANNA AND TASHA:
The 2020 election is right around the corner, and right now is the time to take action. This current state and federal administrations are blocking essential funding for reproductive and sexual healthcare. We’re calling on you to help make a difference. Help elect candidates who will fund Planned Parenthood, who will fight to protect our bodily autonomy, and who will nominate and confirm judges who stand behind the precedent for privacy and choice. While Planned Parenthood continues to provide care, the loss of federal Title X funding — from immoral restrictions imposed on this funding — means they need our support to continue to do so. It’s up to us to do something.
When we all come together, we can make a difference and change the future for everyone. We’re relying on you to vote, to volunteer, and to use your voice to make a difference. The election is one year away. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Tags: 2020 Election